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The concept of ultimate concern originated in the writings of Paul Tillich (1951, 1957), who was an existential theologian and philosopher that impacted the development of existential psychology in the United States. Tillich viewed ultimate concern as the essence of religion when understood in broad and inclusive terms (Emmons 1999). Ultimate concern is also the essence of faith for Tillich (1957): “Faith is the state of being ultimately concerned: the dynamics of faith are the dynamics of man’s ultimate concern” (p. 1).
Tillich (1951) notes that the use of concernevidences the existential nature of religious experience, which connects ultimate concern to issues of being and meaning. An ultimate concern, though, does not necessitate a particular content associated with that concern nor does it intend that the concern is without questioning or doubt. Rather, the person remains ultimately concerned with the object of faith even if one “is sometimes inclined to attack and reject it” (p....
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